United States Air Force Academy

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Think Outside the Atmosphere

ASTRONAUTICAL ENGINEERING

Cadets learn the fundamentals of satellites, rockets, and other space systems as well as how to design them to contribute to our national security and economy. This experience is enhanced by senior capstone projects and independent and sponsored research opportunities with a variety of government and industry partners.

About Us

In 1958, the same year NASA was formed, the Department of Astronautics was established at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Our cadets are rocket scientists, and our motto is “Learning Space by Doing Space.” We have designed, built, and launched rockets to the edge of space. We have designed and built satellites that are currently in Earth orbit and are fully funded by Air Force Research Laboratory to do the same with two more satellites over the next three years. Our cadets, from fourth year to first year, operate our ground station, controlling satellites that contribute to our national security and our understanding of the space environment. Our graduates are now conducting space-related research, acquiring our next generation of space systems, and operating our current space assets in defense of the nation.

Our program is the best in the country, as the #1 Aeronautical / Astronautical program on the 2017 U.S. News Best Colleges list.

POTENTIAL JOB ASSIGNMENTS
Within the Air Force
  • 11x – Pilot
  • 13S – Space Operations
  • 62ExB Astronautical Engineer
  • 62ExG Project (General) Engineer
  • 63Ax Acquisition Manager
Outside the Air Force
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineer
  • Spacecraft Designer
  • Structural Engineer

Approximately 50% of Astronautical Engineering graduates go on to become pilots while the other half go to Acquisition or Developmental Engineering duties; 30% pursue a Master’s Degree immediately after graduation (with follow-on pilot training for many); and 20% engineering jobs.

SAMPLE COURSES
  • Astrodynamics
  • Rocket Propulsion
  • Space Mission Design
  • Small Spacecraft Engineering
SUGGESTED COURSE SEQUENCE
4TH CLASS YEAR (FRESHMAN) 3RD CLASS YEAR (SOPHOMORE) 2ND CLASS YEAR (JUNIOR) 1ST CLASS YEAR (SENIOR)
Beh Sci 110

Chem 100

Com Sci 110

English 111

For Lang 1

For Lang 2

History 100

Math 141

Math 142

Physics 110

Astro Engr 201

Astro Engr 310

Chem 200

ECE 315

English 211

Mech Engr 220

Mech Engr 320

Econ 201

Math 243

Math 245

MSS 251

Physics 215

Aero Engr 241

Astro Engr 321

Astro Engr 331

Astro Engr 351

Law 220

Engr 341

Engr 342

Mech Engr 330

Philos 310

Math 346

Math 356 /377

Pol Sci 211

Adv Sociocultural Opt

Aero Engr 315

Astro Engr 445

Astro 436

Astro 437

Astro 332

History 300

Soc Sci 311

Space Environment Opt

For full program requirements and course descriptions, download the current Curriculum Handbook.

ACCREDITATION INFORMATION

The Astronautical Engineering degree is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, www.abet.org.

To ensure the success of our graduates, we prepare them to achieve the following Program Educational Objectives within two to five years after graduation:

  • Recognition as successful Air Force officers through demonstration of their ability to:
    • Rapidly acquire required knowledge
    • Lead others effectively
    • Apply ethical and moral standards
    • Improve unit performance by application of organizational skills
    • Make sound decisions based on critical thinking
    • Communicate effectively
  • Selection for career training on, or ahead of, schedule, and for a progression of assignments of increasing responsibility
  • Demonstrated ability to solve Air Force technical problems
  • Success in continuing education

These objectives are assessed through Student Outcomes—the skills, knowledge and behaviors students should acquire before graduation. The outcomes for this program are:

  • an ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics
  • an ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors
  • an ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences
  • an ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts
  • an ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives
  • an ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions
  • an ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies
Academic Year Students Enrolled Degrees Conferred
2019-2020 133 40 (Class of 2020)
2018-2019 119 35 (Class of 2019)
2017-2018 115 26 (Class of 2018)
2016-2017 101 17 (Class of 2017)
CONTACT US

Dr. Scott Dahlke
DFAS Advisor-in-Charge
scott.dahlke@usafa.edu

WANT TO STUDY ASTRONAUTICAL ENGINEERING?